Diamond Shape vs Diamond Cut: What’s the Difference?

There are countless diamond terms, and not everyone has the time to master them. As diamond pros, we want to shed light on two commonly confused terms: diamond shape and diamond cut.

Many people confuse the meaning of diamond shape and cut or use them interchangeably. These diamond terms mean different things and are important for any diamond shopper.

Today we will define the difference between diamond shape and diamond cut. After this article, you will be able to shop for diamonds with greater confidence.

The Difference Between Diamond Shape and Diamond Cut

Do not worry if you have confused diamond shape and diamond cut. With their similar names, they trip up plenty of diamond shoppers.

Diamond shape describes the stone’s form, like rounds and ovals. This is different from diamond cut. The diamond cut defines how well the diamond was cut from the raw stone.

For example, a diamond can have a round shape and an excellent cut. This means that the round diamond was cut exceptionally well by diamond cutters.

What does Diamond Shape mean?

Raw diamonds can be fashioned into an assortment of diamond shapes. While diamond cut defines how well the diamond was cut, diamond shape describes the stone’s form. There are countless diamond shapes on the market. Many people start shopping for diamonds by picking a shape first. The ten most popular diamond shapes are:

  • Rounds
  • Princesses
  • Cushions
  • Ovals
  • Pears
  • Emeralds
  • Asschers
  • Radiants
  • Hearts
  • Marquise

Before buying a diamond, always consider the pros and cons of each shape. Diamond Shapes such as rounds, princesses, and pears have great sparkle. Emeralds, asschers, and radiants create flashes of light. Elongated shapes like ovals look larger than other diamonds of the same carat weight.

What does Diamond Cut really mean?

Diamond cut is part of the 4C’s of diamond grading. The 4C’s include carat weight, clarity, color, and, most importantly, cut. A diamond’s cut details how well the stone was fashioned by a diamond cutter. Diamond cut quality greatly influences the diamond’s beauty.

Diamond cut determines how well light can travel throughout the diamond. When light hits a diamond, it will either reflect or refract. Reflected light will bounce off the diamond’s facets. Refracted light will pass through the facet.

Diamonds with excellent cut grades allow light to best travel throughout the stone. Each symmetrical facet will let light bounce around until it exits out the top of the diamond. This creates the mesmerizing sparkle from diamonds that we all love.

A poorly cut diamond will look lifeless because light escapes from its sides and bottom. These diamonds also look smaller than a well-cut diamond of the same carat weight. This happens because the carat weight was disproportionately distributed when cut.

Unlike the other 4C’s you should never settle for a low cut grade. You should only buy diamonds with Excellent cut grades. Even if you buy a large diamond with great color and clarity grades, a diamond with a bad cut grade will look dull.

How is Diamond Cut Graded?

A diamond’s cut grade is based on its face-up appearance, design, and craftsmanship. When judging a diamond’s cut, gemologists check the diamond’s:

  • Proportion: The size, shape, and angle of each facet.
  • Symmetry: How well the facets align.
  • Polish: The smoothness of each facet.
  • Fire: The rainbow of colors emitted from the diamond.
  • Brilliance: The light reflected from a diamond.
  • Scintillation: The sparkle a diamond makes when moved.

Ranked from best to worst, cut grades include:

  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor

Certain jewelers sell “ideal” cut diamonds. The term “ideal” is not used by the GIA. Ideal cuts describe diamonds of the highest cut quality. Blue Nile sells ideal and Astor Ideal diamonds. Astor Ideal diamonds claim to be even more brilliant than ideals and are more expensive. These branded “ideal” terms are usually a tactic to increase the diamond’s price. When in doubt, you can always trust a GIA certified diamond with an excellent cut.

What are Diamond Cutting Techniques?

Throughout history, different diamond cutting techniques have been used. Each cutting technique offers unique beauty. Below are the most popular diamond cut types:

Brilliant: Also known as the round brilliant. Brilliants are the most popular diamond style. Most diamonds sold today are round brilliants because of their remarkable beauty. Brilliants were designed to maximize a diamond’s eye-catching fire and brilliance.

Modified Brilliant: Modified brilliants are shapes based on the brilliant’s design. These diamonds provide a mesmerizing sparkle comparable to round diamonds. Modified brilliant diamonds include ovals, pears, princess, marquise, and hearts.

Step Cut: Step cut diamonds cut fashioned into a square or rectangular shape. These diamonds have parallel facets that are instantly distinguishable from brilliant diamonds. Step cut facets look like the steps of a pyramid. Instead of the brilliant diamond’s sparkle, step cut diamonds emit flashes of light. Popular step cut diamonds are emeralds, baguettes, and asschers.

Rose Cut: Rose cut diamonds were popular during Georgian and Victorian eras. Fans of the cut have created a modern revival of rose cuts. Rose-cut diamonds have a flat bottom, domed crown, and no pavilion. These diamonds offer little brilliance and look dull compared to modern cuts.

Final Thoughts

After our diamond shape vs diamond cut crash course, you can now tell the difference between the two. When you shop for diamonds, remember to always focus on a diamond’s cut grade.

You do not want to pay premium prices for a diamond only to have it look dull because of its poor cut grade.

An excellent cut diamond will outshine any large and poorly-cut diamond. With our guidance, your next diamond is sure to be breathtaking.

Learn More about Diamond Cuts and Diamond Shapes:

Carl A. Jones, GIA GG

Carl A. Jones is a GIA Graduate Gemologist with over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. He is an independent jewelry appraiser. He specializes in determining the value of diamonds and advising consumers on how to buy quality diamond jewelry.

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